I even turned down a politician’s dream: fame, fortune, and re-election if I would just get arrested in front of the Sudan Embassy and let a famous Sionist lawyer bail me out of jail.
Underlying it all was my belief that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ought to have universal application. Afterall, it was Dr. King who reminded us that justice is indivisible: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
But when the subject was justice for Palestine, while I stood my ground, the political resolve underneath me dissolved beneath my feet.
For all the talk about justice, the principles underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights melted away when the topic was Palestine. Or any other project of the pro-Israel Lobby. Like Durban, Sudan, Rwanda, Congo, or protecting their interests in Blood Diamonds. Unfortunately for me, all the issues I had taken on with great enthusiasm pitted me for the people, but against the interests of the powerful pro-Israel Lobby.
And then, they decided in 2002 that I had to go.
Even though, two years later, in 2004, I ran again and regained my seat, I still wore a target on my forehead. And again, pro-Israel, pro-war Democrats and Republicans joined to oust me from Congress in 2006, when I was the only Democratic Member of Congress to lose reelection. The significance of the 2006 election was this:
The very first bill to fund the war came up for a vote and passed with exactly the number of votes required. Had I been there to cast my no vote, the bill would have failed. It became clear to me that the “War Party” inside the United States, that consists of pro-war elements inside both the Democratic and Republican parties, do a darn good job of making sure they control enough Congressional votes to keep our country at war.
So, after leaving Congress in January of 2007, I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every child killed, and every veteran maimed as a part of the U.S. war machine.
In 2008, the Green Party, the largest of the small parties in the U.S., nominated me to lead their ticket and I ran for President.
And now, I’m trying to launch “Dignity,” a movement for peace and justice inside the United States as a counter to the war party.
And so began my voyage aboard the pleasure boat, Dignity, that was rammed in international waters by an Israeli warship and that almost cost me my life.
Onboard the Dignity was Sami El-Hajj—the Al Jazeera reporter from Sudan who, while covering the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, was captured and became known as prisoner 345 in Guantanamo for six years. Once again, I came face to face with a victim of U.S. war policy, against Afghanistan and also against his home country of Sudan. I apologized to him.
Dr. David Halpin is here. Stand up Dr. Halpin. He was onboard the Dignity with me and is the one who told me to prepare myself mentally to die after the Israelis attacked us. He also noticed that I had my life jacket on upside down and helped me put it on right side up after we had been rammed.